“The professional body for solicitors has said plans for “secret trials” will damage the UK’s international reputation for fair justice.
The Justice and Security Bill returns to the Lords today amid controversy about some of its provisions.
The Bill would allow civil cases to be heard in a ‘closed material procedure‘, with one side barred from hearing the evidence of the other if a judge deems that it would be damaging to national security if it became public.”
It appears that the Lords have now defeated the Government three times on this proposition according to the BBC.
If justice is to be done and seen to be done then should it not be ‘in public’? As Lucy Scott-Montcrieff, Law Society President said, are not secret trials and non-disclosure of evidence potential characteristics of repressive regimes and undemocratic societies? What Lucy Scott-Montrieff failed to mention is that this proposal originates from what is already a repressive regime and that as a result our system of democracy cannot in any way be considered democratic.
This entire subject is of course one of great complexity and the public should be able to receive information in order that they can form an opinion – which is not the case at present as all they have are ‘sound-bites’ issued by the various ‘interested parties’.
It will be recalled that #4 of the Harrogate Agenda demands that no legislation should take effect without the direct consent of the majority of the people. Undoubtedly such a measure as that proposed for secret trials would occasion a petition for a referendum and if the politicians wished to ensure passage of their proposal it would then be incumbent on them to make available to the public every piece of information available, to ensure that the proposal would pass without opposition.
In respect of such a referendum it is to be hoped that when the people accept their constitutions – Demand #5 of the Harrogate Agenda – both local and national – they might adopt the procedure used in Switzerland. When a referendum is called it is required that every person receives, two months before polling date, a small booklet informing them about the proposed changes in the law. The booklet on the referendum also includes texts by both the federal council and the proponents of each referendum, allowing each of them to promote their position.